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Alexander BEDFORD





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (14) - Parricide
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 6, 2001
Date of birth: December 31, 1986
Victim profile: His mother, Juanita Bedford, 37
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Miami Dade County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to 10 years in state custody under a plea agreement on June 27, 2005
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Boy Pleads Guilty To Killing Mother When He Was 14

Boy Likely To Face 10 To 20 Years In Prison

April 8, 2005

MIAMI -- An 18-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to killing his mother four years ago.

Between 1999 and 2001, three teenagers were charged with first-degree murder in South Florida. Two of them, Lionel Tate and Nathan Brazil, received national attention and both were convicted. Tate was convicted of killing a playmate; Brazil, for murdering his teacher.

The third case, that of Alexander Bedford, has avoided the media spotlight and a major murder trial.

Bedford, 18, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that he stabbed his mother, Juanita, to death in 2001, when he was 14 years old.

Bedford avoids the possibility of life in prison with this plea. Lawyers in the case want the judge to impose a sentence of between 10 and 20 years, although doctors who have examined Bedford said he will need a lot of help beyond a jail sentence.

"The recommendation for psychotherapy is really critical to whether or not this young man is going to make it as a regular citizen," Dr. Jane Ansley, a psychologist, said.

"To this day, (Bedford) still feels somewhat resentful about his mother paying more attention to others than to him and mistreating him, and he tends to brood over that," Dr. Sonya Ruiz, another psychologist, said.

Maddy Green, Bedford's maternal grandmother, did not want to comment.

Lawyers in the case remain under a gag order.

The guilty plea came on a day when the defense was going to try to have Bedford's confession thrown out, saying that he knowingly waived his rights in 2001 for reasons of youth and intellect.

While Bedford attended Westview Middle School at the time of his mother's death, his lawyer claims that his mental abilities at the time were those of a much younger child.

Prosecutors were prepared to show a home video in which Bedford hammed it up for the camera to show that he was a bright 14-year-old.

But on Thursday, both sides agreed that Bedford, who is taking 12th-grade classes behind bars, is smart and alert enough to legitimately enter a guilty plea.

Bedford will be sentenced in June. His sentence is likely to fall between 10 and 20 years and will likely include post-incarceration supervision and psychiatric follow-up.


Miami Teen Gets 10 Years For Mother's Stabbing Death

Boy Stabbed Mother After She Threatened Whipping

June 28, 2005

MIAMI -- An abused teenager who initially faced a life sentence for fatally stabbing his mother in the heart when he was 14 was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in state custody under a plea agreement.

Alexander Bedford, 18, confessed to killing his mother after she ordered him to get an extension cord for a whipping over a bad report card. The defense maintained the boy had been physically and emotionally abused for years -- including being dressed in women's clothing by his mother's girlfriend -- and a teacher's suspicion of child abuse had not been followed up.

Juanita Bedford, 37, "punished him too harshly and perhaps even criminally in the hopes of making him a better person," Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mary Barzee said. But the expected beating "did not justify him stabbing her to death."

Alexander Bedford passed a note in his middle school classroom asking "how do you kill somebody" hours before attacking his mother in their apartment in 2001. He made up a story about an intruder killing the teacher's aide for disabled high school students when she answered the door.

He later said he attacked her with a 7-inch kitchen knife after she threatened to whip him for getting bad grades. Friends said the victim was having trouble disciplining her son.

The knife was found on one side of her body, the extension cord on the other, and the report card was on the table.

Prosecutors asked for something near the high end of an agreed 10- to 20-year range, but relatives begged for a sentence with no prison time. With credit for time served and no disciplinary problems in prison, defense attorney Roderick Vereen said he expects Bedford to be released in about 3 1/2 years.

Bedford must serve 10 years probation, get psychological counseling and take his prescribed medications. The judge noted he is currently being treated for depression and was sexually assaulted in custody. She also said Bedford has gone from a child with Ds and Fs to a 3.54 grade point average in 12th grade classes.

Bedford's mother distanced herself from her family while living with a girlfriend and her son. The girlfriend estimated some of the beatings lasted 20 minutes and asked the woman to stop but did not report the whippings, said Vereen. The girlfriend also dressed the boy in drag and videotaped him dancing while his mother was at work.

The victim's mother told the judge she didn't know about the abuse.

"I don't know why she did the things that she did to this child," Mattie Mathis said. "A mother is someone who is supposed to protect their children, love them, protect them, spend time with their children. My daughter didn't do that. Why, I don't know."

The victim's sister, Gloria Murray, said her nephew begged her several times to let him move in but she refused without realizing the boy was being hurt by her sister, who was "quick to anger and fight. ... She was tough."

Bedford removed his glasses and wiped tears from his eyes after his relatives spoke.

"I loved my mother so much," he said, inhaling deeply to stifle tears. "I have been through a lot of pressure, a lot of pain."

Three court-appointed psychologists described him as mild-mannered and passive, while his grandmother considered him meek and immature.

Prosecutors conceded in April when they reduced the charge from first-degree to second-degree murder that the mother's "character and parenting skills would become a centerpiece of the trial," and they wanted to avoid that for the family's sake.

Bedford is among the youngest children exposed to a lifetime in prison under a Florida law making the sentence mandatory for juveniles convicted as adults of first-degree murder. As of May 30, a total of 401 teens killers as young as 13 at the time of their crimes are serving life in Florida, said state Corrections Department spokeswoman Debbie Buchanan.

Florida has been criticized for its mandatory life sentences for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder, but the state Department of Juvenile Justice and legislative leaders are not pushing for change. A safety valve allows young killers to seek lighter sentences from a state clemency board, which includes the governor.

The mandatory life term was imposed on Lionel Tate, the youngest person in modern U.S. history to be sentenced to life, who killed a 6-year-old family friend at age 12 in 1999. The Broward County resident, now 18, is in jail again in Fort Lauderdale following two arrests after his murder conviction was reversed on appeal. He was set free after pleading guilty to a reduced charge.

In another notorious case, Nathaniel Brazill is serving a 28-year sentence after being indicted on a first-degree murder charge and convicted of second-degree murder for killing his Palm Beach County teacher when he was 13 in 2000.


Teen gets 10 years for killing his mom

Wed, Jun. 29, 2005

A teen who killed his mother after she threatened to beat him over a bad middle-school report card got 10 years in prison. Among his biggest supporters was the victim's mother.

By Scott Hiaasen

Mattie Mathis stood before a judge Tuesday and asked for mercy for the youth who killed her daughter -- her grandson, now 18.

''To me, he's like my own,'' Mathis told Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mary Barzee before the judge sentenced Alexander Bedford, who stabbed his mother to death when he was 14. ``I lost my daughter. I am not going to lose my grandson. I think he's really been through enough.''

Though Mathis and her other daughters asked for probation for Bedford, Barzee sentenced the teen to 10 years in prison -- the lowest possible sentence under a plea deal between prosecutors and Bedford's lawyer -- followed by 10 years of probation.

Bedford pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier this year, and he has already served more than four years of his sentence awaiting trial.

On Feb. 6, 2001, Bedford plunged a seven-inch steak knife into his mother's chest. Bedford acted, he said, after she told him to get an extension cord so she could whip him. At their apartment, police found the cord by the mother's body and her son's eighth-grade report card on a table.


The judge said she believed Bedford to be a ''mild-mannered, passive child'' who was abused by his mother, 37-year-old Juanita Bedford -- though the abuse did not justify Juanita's death.

Bedford was originally charged with first-degree murder and faced a possible life sentence if convicted at trial. Prosecutors said they had evidence that Bedford planned his mother's death: He asked for advice on killing her from students at school earlier that day.

But prosecutors agreed to a plea deal to avoid a trial that promised to focus on the conduct of Bedford's mother, a former teacher's aide who worked with disabled students at Miami Edison Senior High School.


Before his sentencing, Bedford, an only child, apologized for his mother's death and choked back sobs. He said shame prevented him from calling his grandmother on Mother's Day.

''Your honor, I love my mom so much, I really do,'' he said. "I'm so sorry.''

Attorney Roderick Vereen said Bedford suffered physical and psychological abuse at the hands of his mother and her lover. In a sworn statement, the lover corroborated that Bedford was abused by his mother. Before the murder, the Department of Children and Families investigated an abuse complaint against Bedford's mother at the request of his school. The family attended one counseling session, the state said.


In a home video taken by Juanita's girlfriend, Laverne Demon, 13-year-old Alexander dressed as a girl and was coaxed to dance provocatively ''like some stripper in a nightclub,'' the lawyer said.

Despite the abuse, Bedford doted on his mother, Vereen said. Hours before the stabbing, he ironed her clothes and laid them out for her, as he did nearly every night.

''This incident was bound to happen,'' Vereen said. "Alex felt he was in fear. She thought beating him with an extension cord was a way of getting his attention.''

Mathis told the judge that she saw her grandson becoming withdrawn and fearful before the murder.

''A mother is someone that's supposed to love their children, protect them, comfort them,'' Mathis said. "My daughter didn't do these things. Why, I don't know.''

But Assistant State Attorney Dan Dudis said the abuse allegations against Juanita have been exaggerated. He said Bedford's mother worked two jobs to buy a condominium in a better neighborhood, where he attended Westview Middle School.


''I think it is unfortunate that someone who was brutally murdered has had her reputation dragged through the mud from beyond the grave,'' Dudis said.

Though he asked Judge Barzee to give Bedford a sentence closer to 20 years, he said the judge's decision was ``fair and equitable.''

When he's released, Bedford must attend school or work full-time, and must undergo a psychological evaluation or treatment as part of his probation.

Meanwhile, the judge noted, Bedford has achieved a 3.5 grade-point average in jail and has studied at a 12th-grade level.


Teen, 14, to be tried as adult for murder

By Nicole White - The Miami Herald

June 30, 2001

Alexander Bedford, the 14-year-old charged with fatally stabbing his mother in February, will be tried as an adult on first-degree murder charges. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

The grand jury returned the indictment this week on Bedford, who has confessed to stabbing his mother, Juanita Bedford, inside their home at 11625 NW 22nd Ave. because his mother had told him to fetch an extension cord and prepare for a whipping.

Juanita Bedford, 37, a teacher's aide to the physically disabled at Miami Edison Senior High, had been having some difficulties disciplining her son, friends said at the time of the slaying.

Bedford is the third South Florida teen in two years to be charged with first-degree murder.

Lionel Tate is serving a life sentence for the July 28, 1999, death of his 6-year-old playmate Tiffany Eunick. At the time of the killing, Tate was 12. Nathaniel Brazill, the now 14-year-old Palm Beach teen, was indicted on a first-degree murder charge for the 2000 shooting of teacher Barry Grunow. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder in May.

Bruce Winick, a professor of law at the University of Miami, suggests it is unlikely Bedford will be sentenced to life in prison.

"I hope the judge considers his tender age, but what happens to him will depend on what defenses are raised during his trial,'' said Winick, who said he is against juveniles being tried as adults, regardless of the crime.

It took four months, an unusual length of time, for the prosecutor's office to present the case to a grand jury.

"We took our time because both sides were looking at things that might justify keeping him in the juvenile system,'' said prosecutor Leon Botkin.

Bedford is scheduled to be arraigned Monday before Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Gill Freeman.

Initially, Bedford told police that an intruder wearing dark pants and a white shirt stabbed his mother through the heart with a seven-itch kitchen knife. His story soon unraveled and he was arrested at a relative's home the next day.

Bedford, a student at Westview Middle School, later told detectives that he had planned the murder of his mother that day as he sat in class. He hoped with her death he could live with his aunt.

The Department of Children and Families would not confirm whether it received reports of abuse at the home.

However, Stephen Harper, the former head of the juvenile unit in the public defenders' office, said there is a history of abuse in almost all cases of a child killing a parent.

"There is usually some underlying trauma,'' said Harper, who would not comment on this particular case. ``Rarely, rarely, does a child kill a parent out of plain cold-blooded anger. There is usually abuse or some serious trauma.''

Bedford's attorney, Roderick Vereen, could not be reached for comment Friday, but has previously said his client has the mind of a third-grader. Bedford's family has remained silent, Vereen said, concerned their comments might unfairly affect the case.



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